Best of Louisiana Basketball: Class of 2016

TSD publisher Ben Love scoured the state for Louisiana's best basketball talent in 2016. Check out his in-state rankings and what local coaches had to say about the best juniors on the bayou.

Prep basketball in Louisiana is heading for a monster year in 2016.

One of the deepest classes in the history of the state is bubbling to the surface, with a number of players making statements now in their junior seasons.

As usual there are several college prospects in the bunch that play on the perimeter, but supplementing those athletic wings and point guards are a few legitimate post players who have coaches from the next level keeping tabs on the Pelican State.

Below is my ranking of the top eight players in the Class of 2016 along with quotes from anonymous high school coaches from across the state. No coach is quoted speaking about his own player, either, giving a nice, objective viewpoint as well as a perspective of trying to coach against the players, in many cases.

Enjoy, and be sure to check out the additional links for each player to get a more in-depth report on the recruiting process for all of them.

No. 1 – Cameron Lard

At 6-foot-9.5 and 215 pounds, Cameron Lard of Natchitoches Central is the best big man in the state, regardless of classification, and he gets my vote – as well as that of several coaches around the state polled – as the top junior in Louisiana. Lard was the Most Outstanding Player in the 5A state playoffs a year ago, when he led the Chiefs to the title. He's picked back up where he left off this season, and colleges continue to take notice. Lard is receiving interest from, among others, Kansas State, Baylor, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, New Mexico and Texas A&M.

Coach's Take

“He comes with an amazingly high ceiling. He kinda reminds me of an Alonzo Mourning when he was in high school on the defensive end. Cam’s got a pretty developed offensive game as well. But the biggest thing I saw with Cam, watching him last summer and last school year, is he plays with a real high motor. Obviously he’s a high-major kid. But he still has one more year ahead of him. So his best basketball is still ahead of him, for sure.”

TSD Story Links

VIDEO: Lard updates recruitment (Jan. 2015)
Hail to the Chiefs (June 2014)

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No. 2 – Skylar Mays

Mays is a 6-foot-3.5, 180-pound cerebral point guard from University High in Baton Rouge. He's coming off a state championship run in Class 3A and his Cubs are currently undefeated against in-state competition this season (the Madison Prep Hall of Fame game last Saturday aside). Mays was at one time committed to LSU – head coach Johnny Jones' son plays prep ball alongside Mays – but he re-opened his recruitment late in the summer. The pass-first point guard is hearing from a slew of schools, including Wake Forest, Memphis, Boston College, SMU, Mississippi State, UNLV, Tulsa, Tulane and of course LSU.

Coach's Take

“Skylar is very deceptive. When you look at him in general, you don’t think much about him, but the guy is sneaky athletic. He’s going to dunk on you. And he’s so slow and fluid before that, that it’s kinda surprising. It’s not that he’s un-athletic. It’s just that he runs the show so well. So when he decides to take you off the dribble and dunk on you or he shows a little burst of explosiveness, you’re not used to seeing it. He’s crafty around the basket. He’s a plus-passer. Could really probably work on shooting to improve his game, but he’s a very tough guy to play against. He’s a prototypical point guard, and you don’t see that very often anymore.”

TSD Story Links

Catching up with Mays (Jan. 2015)
Mays flashes athleticism, talks recruiting (Oct. 2014)
Q & A: Skylar Mays (Feb. 2014)
Big year on horizon for Mays (Oct. 2013)

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No. 3 – DeJon Jarreau

Jarreau, 6-foot-4.5 and 165 pounds, shot up Scout.com's rankings quickly after a monster showing in Las Vegas at summer's end. Capable of playing the one or the two, Jarreau most commonly operates on the ball as a point guard. Many are still gathering information and tape on Jarreau, whose McDonogh 35 prep team in New Orleans isn't as high-profile as some of the other players' schools on this list. But there's nothing low-profile about the schools coming after Jarreau. That list includes Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Washington, Arkansas, Temple, UNLV, Boston College and Virginia.

Scout's Take

“Jarreau is very long, looks young, has grown two inches in the last year and is an extremely versatile prospect. He used his quick first step and ability to drive both left and right to blow by his defenders, got to the basket, showed off some really impressive vision, scored from deep and played hard on defense. His scoring ability allowed him to make plays off the ball, but his vision and playmaking also make him very capable of running the show.”

TSD Story Links

Chase is on for Jarreau (Jan. 2015)
VIDEO: Jarreau updates recruitment (Sept. 2014)

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No. 4 – Mike Layssard

"Big Mike" belongs to the rarest of breeds. The Northwood-Lena power forward/center stands 6-foot-8 and 267 pounds, but he has the offensive skill set of a smaller player while still maintaining an overpowering physical edge. What's more: Layssard used to be a lot bigger. He lost 30 pounds from the beginning of his sophomore year to September 2014. He does play against smaller competition in high school, but Layssard is primed to show the rest of the country this summer what some of us already know – that he's the biggest sleeper in the state. Big Mike is hearing from, among others, Mississippi State and Texas A&M, where assistant Rick Stansbury has taken a particular interest in Layssard.

Coach's Take

“I love Big Mike. His game offensively is unreal. I don’t know who all’s recruiting him, but I think a whole lot of people are sleeping on him. Offensively he knows how to use his body. I mean he will bury you underneath. He uses his body to get rebounds. He can face up. He’s got the mid-range game. He’s starting to knock down the three ball some. He’s lost a lot of weight, too, from where he used to be. Big Mike is a lot more mobile than people realize. When you look at him, he’s so dang big, but he can move, he’s nimble. I like him a lot. In fact in that 2016 class, which is loaded, there’s not a doubt in my mind he’s one of the top three players.”

TSD Story Link

Less is more for Big Mike (Oct. 2014)

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No. 5 – Malik Crowfield

There was no hesitation from any coach asked. Crowfield is the best shooter in his class, and possibly at any age in Louisiana high school hoops. The Riverside Academy wing, who stands 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, can absolutely fill it. He's been at the core of back-to-back 2A state championship teams, and Crowfield is only a junior. He scored 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in last year's state title game, taking home Most Outstanding Player honors. In his recruitment Crowfield has heard from, among others, UTEP, Baylor, LSU, Dayton, Arizona and Tulsa.

Coach's Take

“Crowfield, you can’t give him any room. You let him catch it and shoot it, he’s going to kill you. He knocked down a couple on us when I thought we were in great position with a hand extended on him. He’s got great length and he knows how to run off screens and finds ways to get open. He plays hard, too. I like Crowfield’s game. Man, he can shoot it.”

TSD Story Link

Crowfield ready for more (March 2014)

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No. 6 – Wayde Sims

Joining Lard and Crowfield, Sims is another Most Outstanding Player from last year's state championships. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound forward from University High (Baton Rouge) plays a versatile game. Mays grabs a lot of the attention, and for good reason, but Sims, his childhood friend, is an absolute force on the high school level. It's unknown where he'll fit in, position-wise, in the college game, but he continues to grow his shooting range in preparation to play on the wing. Sims, whose father played for LSU and who is actually related to Tigers' coach Johnny Jones, is receiving interest from the home-state school and Vanderbilt, to name a few.

Coach's Take

“When we have to play against U-High, he’s the one that you have to stop, or you have to try to contain him. Skylar rises to the moment when he needs to; Wayde is constantly in the moment it seems like. He’s the go-to guy on their offense. He’s the one that can punish you and beat you. And if you put a big on him, he’s going to take him outside. From 17 feet and in, he’s really good. Last year when Skylar was out of the game or got in foul trouble, he was the one who handled the ball for them, too. He’s kinda the jack of all trades, a swiss-army-knife type guy. He’s just tough is the best way to put it. He’s got a really complete game for the high school level, a 6-foot-5 kid that can go in and out.”

TSD Story Link

No rest for Sims (June 2014)

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No. 7 – Troy Green

There aren't many perimeter players in the state like Green, who at 6-foot-4 and close to 200 pounds brings a heavy dose of physicality along with athleticism and scoring prowess. He plays his high school ball at East St. John in Reserve. On the prep level Green actually is required to play a good bit in the post, particularly the high post, where he feasts offensively. His handles are well intact as well, making Green a difficult player to stay in front of both physically and athletically. The well-built slasher is hearing from in-state schools Tulane and UNO as well as Iowa State, among others.

Coach's Take

“I saw him in a tournament earlier this season. Troy Green is built like a tank. He is just built and solid – big shoulders, big biceps. He is a load physically. Mid-range and in, he’s strong. I mean he catches it, one dribble and bam, he’s at the rim. He’s physical. He plays hard. He’s all over the floor – rebounding, diving for loose balls, rim-running. He just always plays hard. If he gets a perimeter game to where he can consistently catch and shoot, watch out. He doesn’t shoot the three too much because he doesn’t have to. But in some ways he reminds me of Zeke (Northwestern State guard Zikiteran Woodley, currently the nation’s fourth-leading scorer). He’s not quite at the same level as Zeke was in high school, but they could both catch it in the high post and in one dribble it’s over. Troy’s thicker than Zeke was, but he’s not quite as explosive.”

TSD Story Link

Green coming on strong (April 2014)

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No. 8 – Herb McGee

There's no questioning that McGee is in the top percentile of athletes playing high school basketball in Louisiana. What is in question is whether or not his future lies on the hardwood. McGee, a 6-foot-2, 176-pound guard from Riverside Academy, is garnering substantial recruiting interest on the gridiron, where LSU has offered him as a wide receiver. Other schools interested on the football side include Florida State, Mississippi State and Nebraska. So it's easy to understand why he's not esteemed quite as highly on the court ... that is unless you're fixing to play or coach against McGee. He's another in the long line of outside shooters Riverside seems to have stockpiled, but McGee is most devastating when the game speeds up. That's when his athleticism takes over and few in the state, in any class, can match him.

Coach's Take

“You better stop him in transition. That’s where he killed us. He gets out and runs, and he beat us up the floor several times. Just off an in-bounds, too. They in-bound it, sling it to him, McGee gets it and I mean just one or two dribbles and he’s at the rim. He’s not a bad shooter, either. He shoots it enough to where he’s made enough, but he’s not the shooter Crowfield is. But he still shoots it well enough that you have to get out there and guard him. He’s also so strong. His upper-body is strong. He can take contact and finish around the rim. But in the open floor especially, he’s a handful.”

TSD Story Link

LSU football offer showed lot of love (Sept. 2014)



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